A Tale of Two Rickeys

One of the most ironic spectacles in recent weeks was the fulsome support Pacific Coast League President Branch Rickey III gave to the idea of moving the Las Vegas 51s from Cashman Field to Summerlin. Just as millions of moviegoers were watching the tale of how Rickey’s grandfather spearheaded the integration of Major League Baseball, Las Vegans got a look at the letter Rickey III sent to prospective 51s co-owner Steve Mack advocating the team’s move to the suburbs. “Our success,” he wrote, “rests on our ballparks being safe destinations for mothers, fathers and children.” Never mind that in 2012—Cashman’s 29th season—more than 300,000 fans successfully braved the Las Vegas Cultural Corridor to watch minor league baseball, or that a good number of them were mothers, fathers and children. Never mind that Cashman is right down the street from the Las Vegas Natural History Museum and the former longtime home of the Lied Discovery Children’s Museum. Or that students take field trips to Cashman Center to watch plays and musical performances. Or that the area is home to the historic Mormon Fort and the Neon Museum. Or that it’s the future home of the Las Vegas Shakespeare Company.

None of this was in the Las Vegas Review-Journal story about Rickey’s Summerlin support, but the paper did helpfully contextualize Rickey’s words with some demographics: “Cashman Field is in a low-income neighborhood, which includes some blighted housing.” It all adds up to a bizarre, vintage-1990s take on urban Las Vegas: The city isn’t safe.

While we’re at it, never mind that Cashman Field is adjacent to Las Vegas’ historic black neighborhood, the Westside.

In other news, baseball is in a flop sweat over the dwindling number of African-Americans in the major leagues.

The original Branch Rickey just might say it’s time to invest in Cashman and make a stand.

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